|The scene from my hotel window!|
|The scene from my hotel window!|
Registration for the 2013 New Jersey Annual Conference is just days away. They are fixing last-minute glitches, crossing Is and dotting Ts (or vice-versa). I will add the link as soon as they are ready to go live. May even be later today, so check back.
June 7-9, 2013
The Crowne Plaza-Holiday Inn Express (Formerly the Wyndham)
We are proud to welcome this year’s keynote speakers. Both speakers will be giving an additional presentation at the conference, too, so this is not to be missed folks!
Caldecott Honor Illusrator/Author Peter Brown
Picture book illustrator/author Peter Brown (Children Make Terrible Pets, You Will Be My Friend, Creepy Carrots)
Times Best-selling Author Lauren Oliver
YA/MG author Lauren Oliver (Delirium, Pandemonium, Requeim, Before I Fall, The Spindlers)
Are you published, but need help with marketing your books? There’s a workshop for that!
Are you brand new to the kidlit world and don’t know where to start? There’s a workshop for that!
Have you had trouble fleshing out a main character, atagonist or plot for your story? There are several worshops for that!
And we’ve got more than 50 faculty members compiled of editors, agents, art directors, librarians and author/illustrator speakers joining us this year, and more than 70 workshops to choose from. Panels, pitching sessions, keynotes, one-on-one critiques, craft workshops, lectures, intensives, a bookfair, portfolio display, juried art show, and oodles of networking opportunities, oh my!
Jenne Abramowitz, Senior Editor, Scholastic
Heather Alexander, Editor, Dial BFYR/Penguin
Elizabeth (Betsy) Bird, Librarian, NYPL/SLJ
Erin Clarke, Senior Editor, Random House
John Cusick, Agent, Greenhouse Literary
Melissa Faulner, Editorial Assistant, Abrams
Louise Fury, Agent, L. Perkins Agency
Julie Ham, Editor, Charlesbridge
Erin Harris, Agent, Folio
Janine Hauber, Agent, Sheldon Fogelman
Ginger Harris, Agent, Liza Royce Agency
Lexa Hillyer, Editor/Co-Founder, Paper Lantern Literary
Connie Hsu, Senior Editor, Little, Brown
Simone Kaplan, Editor, Picture Book People
Janet Kusmierski, Art Director, Scholastic
Tricia Lawrence, Agent, Erin Murphy Literary
Steve Meltzer, Executive editor, Penguin BFYR
Rotem Moscowich, Senior Editor, Disney/Hyperion
Meredith Mundy, Executive Editor, Sterling
Rachel Orr, Agent, Prospect Agency
Jessica Regel, Agent, Jean V. Naggar Agency
Shauna Rossano, Editor, G.P. Putnams’ Sons/Penguin
Martha Sikkema, Senior Designer, Charlesbridge
Christina Tugeau, Agent/Art Rep, Cat Tugeau Agency
Carolyn Yoder, SeniorEditor, Calkins Creek Books
Marietta Zacker, Agent, Nancy Galt
The Writer’s Workshop I facilitate began in the twilight of late summer and concluded its season in the windy cold of winter. Six women, all with their own agendas, their own goals, came together each week—thoughtfully, and with extreme humor—lifting each other to places it had never occurred to them they would go. At least, not in the beginning . . .
Joining a workshop can offer a safe and supportive environment for your voice to be heard. Sharing your work with others in an enthusiastic, encouraging setting allows the freedom to explore your writing while improving your craft. No matter whether you’re an emerging writer or one who has been published, the right workshop will engage you in the thrill of expression.
Our group, now in its third year, started tentatively and with the upmost politeness, for critiquing is a learned art. They began with how a particular sentence invoked an image or “what an interesting story,”; we all like to hear that. But soon, very soon, I saw them yearning to yell out, “Tell me what you really think. Give it to me, I can take it.” First one, then another began to point out a confusion in the storyline, or how that snippet of dialogue didn’t move the plot along. They began commenting on having a stronger lead, heightening the arc, and were able to say, “Let’s hear how you really feel. I think you’re trying to be too nice.”
Sitting in my den with cups of tea, some curled up on the sofa, others cross-legged on the floor, we got to know each other through our writing in ways only true intimates can. We wrote of worries for our children, the confusions of growing older, and the hardships of childhood. The fiction sometimes took us to the dark place that was not outwardly visible on the author’s lovely face. Other times, a long-hidden secret was revealed in a hilarious or harrowing encounter. Gradually, we found our voices and discovered the benefits of critiquing, how helping others turned us into better writers.
Finding the right workshop can be like finding the right doctor. What’s good for one is not necessarily right for another. Prospective members should meet with the facilitator and hear them carefully explain their rules on both commenting and the responses to the comments. It’s important to keep in mind that in a Writer’s Workshop it’s up to the facilitator to keep the focus on the writing, not on the situation being written about. That belongs to the writer.
The individuality that expresses itself in writing is a constant amazement to me. Offered with kindness, a comment may only take a minute, even a few seconds, to impart a positive change. I saw it take place every night in our group and it always makes me want to come back for more.
* * *
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
I’m now back from attending one of the best writers’ conferences I’ve experienced, and I’ve done workshops in Washington State, Idaho, Oregon, and California. I’m pleased to add San Miguel, Mexico, to the list.
This flowers-and-books graphic from the website sums it up—many books, and plentiful flowers. It was sunny and mid-80s during the days. Not too shabby for February. The altitude is 6000 feet, but that wasn’t a problem.
The San Miguel Writers’ Conference had not one but four keynote speakers. I wasn’t able to attend them all, but I did see and enjoy these:
Luis Urrea, author of Into the Beautiful North and other books, and a Pulitzer Prize nominee. If you ever get a chance to hear Luis speak, don’t miss it. He received a standing ovation, and it was well deserved.
Because the writer’s conference is in Mexico, the conference organizers make sure that the conference has a strong Hispanic component, including workshops in Spanish. Mexican author Juan Villoro spoke in English, and was both intellectually stimulating and entertaining.
I did my Crafting Killer Description and Dialogue workshop to a sold-out audience. The writers were energetic and darned good—they did well with the writing exercises. As usual, I really enjoyed it, and it seems that the workshoppers did as well.
There were many valuable workshops offered, but I was able to attend only one. Mark Saunders, author of Nobody Knows the Spanish I Speak, did a workshop on writing humor that I found very helpful. His book is the proof of the pudding—filled with chuckles. Full disclosure: Mark is a book design client as well as a funny writer.
So next year, if you’ve the bucks and would love to have a lovely time at a high-caliber writer’s conference, I recommend San Miguel Writers’ Conference. I’ve applied to do my Killer First Page workshop in 2014. Fingers crossed.
RayAdd a Comment
Here's a tiny video clip from the workshop we had to launch "Welcome To Your Awesome Robot" at the Imagine Festival.
Twenty robots were made within an hour, and these two led the celebratory robot parade.
I take no credit whatsoever, all I did was give the families a load of materials and say MAKE ROBOTS NOW! I figured they'd know what to do. Which was correct.
The plaque on the side of the left one says "STAND BACK THIS IS A DANCING ROBOT" and the other one I think might have a plaque on the back that says "INTERPLANETARY EXPLORATION VEHICLE". Both plaques from the book.
My computer is still in the shop—they’re having trouble retrieving the data from the back-up drive, so I’m nervous.
Since I can’t flog anyone, I thought it would be interesting to see what your participation in writers conferences is and how you feel about it.
I’m doing my Killer Description and Dialogue workshop soon at the San Miguel Writers’ Conference in Mexico soon (check it out) and, while most people report liking my workshops and learning from them, every once in a while someone comes away disappointed. I suspect it may have been a result of misguided expectations, or perhaps just a bad fit of their style with mine, or I just didn't do a good job for that person despite the majority opinion. So I wonder.
So—how about letting me know your participation in conferences—the poll below allows 2 responses. Please respond and tell me whether or not you’ve attended a writers conference and, if so, how you felt about it.Have you attended a writer's conference?
Also—how about telling me, using Comments:
It has happened again–I forgot to blog yesterday. It always seems to happen when there’s a holiday weekend. Then I can’t keep track of what day it is. SO, I am going to combine two posts–the one about Finding My Place that was supposed to be yesterday will just be a quick post about a couple of speaking engagements I am doing–in case you would be interested in having me at your school or group. AND then I am going to share a really great article written by my friend, Carole Di Tosti, PhD about social networking sites for teachers.
I hope you find this information useful! I am going to be featuring two great books next week, so stay tuned.Add a Comment
For this week’s contribution to OUPblog, we’ve gone audio — we are the Oral History Review, after all. In our first podcast, our guest Stephen Sloan elaborates on “On the Other Foot: Oral History Students as Narrators,” a piece he wrote for the most recent issue of the Oral History Review (volume 39, issue 2). This post represents another first: an effort to give current and future Oral History Review contributors room to discuss their articles further.
[See post to listen to audio]
As with all of our efforts here, we welcome comments.
Stephen Sloan is the director of the Institute for Oral History at Baylor University where he teaches a graduate seminar in oral history. He also leads dozens of workshops on oral history each year for community groups, students, and faculty. Sloan, along with the entire staff of the Institute for Oral History, offers an online introduction to oral history twice yearly. To learn more about Dr. Sloan or the work of the Institute for Oral History visit baylor.edu/oralhistory. E-mail: Stephen_Sloan[at]baylor[dot]edu. His article “On the Other Foot: Oral History Students as Narrators” in the latest issue of Oral History Review is available to read for free for a limited time.
The Oral History Review, published by the Oral History Association, is the U.S. journal of record for the theory and practice of oral history. Its primary mission is to explore the nature and significance of oral history and advance understanding of the field among scholars, educators, practitioners, and the general public. Follow them on Twitter at @oralhistreview and like them on Facebook to preview the latest from the Review, learn about other oral history projects, connect with oral history centers across the world, and discover topics that you may have thought were even remotely connected to the study of oral history. Keep an eye out for upcoming posts on the OUPblog for addendum to past articles, interviews with scholars in oral history and related fields, and fieldnotes on conferences, workshops, etc.
Image credit: All articles used with permission of Stephen Sloan. All rights reserved.Add a Comment
At Winchester House School, they don't go for inelegant little things like microphones, they have much more eye-catching amplification devices.
For World Book Day, I did storytelling, character design and comics workshops with the kids, and I was glad to get their feedback from Director of Studies Louisa Farrow. She wrote:
The children I have come across since were genuinely enthused and there is now a rash of comic book drawing which is wonderful to see. On Friday afternoon, when I was talking to some of the children about your talk, they all got their sketchbooks out and started showing me their drawings inspired by your work. Here’s a particularly lovely comment:
'I learned that you don’t need to be famous to publish a comic – just make one!'
And when I asked what was the best thing another boy said, 'She got involved with us.'
Some other comments: 'I learned how easy it is to make a comic and how much fun it is.'
'I learned to be more free with my art and that less detail could be more effective.'
'She was very imaginative, funny and an awesome drawer.'
So, Mission Comics Ambassador accomplished! I advised the kids that the best way to learn how to make books and comics is simple: make books and comics. All they need is a sheet of paper and, to self-publish, a photocopier. If they make lots and lots of books and comics, they'll get better and better and eventually someone else may want to pay them to publish their work.
Winchester House turned out to be a very fancy school! I started to guess that when I got to the entrance and saw the packaging:
I think they might be growing those kids organically as well, but I don't think they taste just like chicken. (I didn't check.)
I did several sessions, and here's some comics we made with the smallest group, in the art room. I had them design characters, led them in a Comics Jam, then started them off on making their own comics that they could self-publish as easily as taking them to the photocopier. They all made some bright covers to house their comics:
Here are some of the Comics Jams we did; each panel is drawn by a different person.
Halfway through the session, a newspaper reporter came in and took some photos. He had me sprawl dramatically across the table... just as I would in any of my comics workshops, of course.
Do you see the guy taking a photo in the top left corner here?
Well, that's the art teacher, Tobias Till, and he does AMAZING printmaking work. I came back and looked at his website and was gobsmacked. Remember how I was playing around with some lino cut work? Well, I'd love to attend some of Toby's workshops, those kids are very
STATUS: In glorious Italy. Such yummy food.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? MARLENE ON THE WALL BY Suzanne Vega
If you are an NLA eNewsletter subscriber, you got the skinny early at the beginning of the month and first dibs on the workshop spots. Now I'm giving my blog readers a chance to register.
In 2012, I have six conferences lined up already. I can hardly believe it myself! And at these conferences, I'm schedule to give my forever popular query pitch workshop and the infamous Agent Reads The Slush Pile workshop where I graciously rip to bits the opening pages of manuscripts. Writers just love this one, which convinces me that you folks are gluttons for punishment.
And I imagine that over the years, one or two of my blog readers have longed to attend one of these workshops but have never had the opportunity.
Well, if that person is you, then listen up. On March 29, 2012, I'm launching Pub Rants University and will be offering our first online video webinar called Goodbye Slush Pile! The Secret of How to Write The Perfect Query Letter Pitch Paragraph for Your Novel.
Try and say that three times fast…
This is a video webinar, not just audio, so you'll get a chance to see my lovely mug for a whole 90 minutes. Not to mention, you'll even be able to ask questions during the workshop. It's like Fridays With Kristin for a whole 90 minutes. On second thought, I'm not sure I can put up with myself for that long…
But if you are interested, here's what you'll learn.
-How to structure your query letter
-How to identify your plot catalyst
-How to boil 300-plus pages of a novel into one pithy pitch paragraph
-The 4 main approaches to building your pitch paragraph around the plot catalyst
-Real examples of what works and why
-Real examples of what doesn't work and why
-Submit of your first draft tag line
Click Here to find out more details and to register. As I don't want the workshop to be too big and unwieldy, the number of attendees is limited so keep that in mind!
In addition to having about the sweetest voice imaginable, Alena Hennessey has a passion for artistic expression and a knack for helping others find their creative voice too.
Her illustration clients include Target, ABC Studios, Papyrus and Urban Outfitters, and her signature style has been featured in the pages of Dwell, Soul/Body Connection, The Washington Post, ReadyMade and Redbook. What she’s thrilled about at the moment, though, is her upcoming online course “Abundant Wild Life” for the Squam Art Workshops in New Hampshire.
Starting at the end of April, Alena will spend four weeks teaching students to work with everything from watercolor pencils to herbal tea, using videos, prompts and “gentle suggestions” for “good creative mojo.”
We had a chat with her recently to discuss her art and her approach to teaching, and came away feeling pretty mojo-enhanced indeed.
1. Your latest series of prints seems to feature trees a lot. Is there something about trees in particular that attracts or inspires you?
Ever since I was a little girl I have been drawn to the silhouette of the tree. I also love the metaphor of a tree, how it starts as a seed and grows into such a large and strong structure that supports life. I love to think about how an acorn can one day become a massive and thriving live oak — that’s just an amazing thought to me.
2. What else inspires you?
So many things! Right now orange, red, and pink together inspire me. I also love a silver or liquid blue line contrasted atop bold washes. I am loving my India ink set right now, especially done on raw wood — the effects are subtle yet bold, and it’s such a fun process. The fact that Spring is here is also very much stirring my muse. I can wear a skirt again and take long walks with my dog. Its the simple things in life really.
3. Come to think of it, is there anything that *doesn’t* inspire you?
Haha– yes! Many things. But we don’t really want to go there.
4. So what got you started doing art?
I was probably four years old. I was illustrating chickens in puddles carrying umbrellas and ant farms. I haven’t really stopped — it’s just something I have always done.
5. And what inspired your move into teaching?
I was actually teaching before I was making art full-time. I taught art for years, from young children to adults, so it’s been an easy transition for me. I started teaching art to children when I was sixteen years old — that would be nineteen years ago! Wow, that’s a wild thought.
6. What has encouraged you along the path?
The notion that if someone else can do it — you can. Plus, as you alluded to earlier, I easily get inspired. I love the challenge of creating work that continues to evolve and improves in my eyes. I want to stay true to myself and I love being autonomous; I have so many ideas I couldn’t imagine working for someone else.
7. If you could have *any* teacher, who would you choose?
I have lots of teachers in my life. I do believe that everything or anyone can be a teacher if you allow it. Right now anyone who is staying in their authentic voice and power teaches me. People who are just finding that voice teach me too — for they help me to understand what they might be struggling with and how to better help them find it. My students teach me all the time. It’s my philosophy that anything is alive can have something to teach us — from tAdd a Comment
STATUS: Another Gorgeous day! Repeat yesterday's status.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LADY IN RED by Chris de Burgh
Or maybe you didn't but are a glutton for punishment anyway. I'm doing my very popular Agent Reads The Slush Pile as an online Webinar coming up on May 2, 2012 6-8 pm MST.
If you can't make it to Denver for the LitFest version of this webinar put on by Lighthouse Writers (where the price is not to be believed but the travel to get there might be rough!), here's your chance to finally experience it for yourself.
This week I went on my first-ever trip to Switzerland! I used to pride myself on travelling lightly, just a tiny rucksack, but I never used to travel around foreign cities wearing big hats or dressed as a pirate. Some of the morning commuters on the Geneva trams looked a bit surprised.
The head librarian of the International School of Geneva invited me to come to her school after getting a lovely recommendation from writer and illustrator Nick Sharratt (thanks, Nick!) and I jumped at the chance.
It's a beautiful school. There are lots of International Schools all over the world, but this one was the first.
I always wanted a job that would let me travel to cool places! I liked this comics panel that one of the children there drew:
'I knew this day would come.' 'Never! Well, maybe in your dreams.' ...Ace!
When I was little, we only ever got to have those mini boxes of sugar cereals when we were on holiday.
I got to do lots and lots of drawing! Not careful, well-thought-out pictures, just fun, fast, scrappy stuff that the kids thought up. The first day was a comics day, so I didn't dress up as a pirate. (But I still wore a fancy hat. It's worth it to see the kids' eyes go round in the stairwells and the people in the staff room doing double-takes.)
Photo by Susan Boller
Here's one of our comics. Kids suddenly come up with loads of ideas when a story is fart-themed.
The second day I did a big pirate assembly for the younger kids, and it was very boisterous, in a good way, with lots of kids giving me their best ARRRRRs.
Photo by Susan Boller
Here's the pirate captain they helped me draw. As always, a paragon of good hygiene and taste. That's the head librarian at the top, Marie-Pierre Preece (or 'MP', as she prefers to be called) and assistant librarian Susan Boller.
Oh, and some more comics!
A couple of comics were even more rude, and MP asked me to tone it down a bit, so they could still post them up for parents to see. It's always a conundrum: do you have kids make stuff that will look good on the bulletin boards, or do you let them revel in total rudeness and think they're being terribly naughty, without realising that they're actually teaching themselves to read and write? It's a fine balance. Here's the picture I drew in the library guest book.
The guest book had lots of other illustrious names in it! Here are entries by Nicholas Allen (I love his book The Queen's Knickers, former Children's Laureate
STATUS: Everything is literally on fire around the city of Denver. From Colorado Springs and Monument to Boulder to Fort Collins. I was so happy to see the rain this afternoon. Sadly it only lasted 20 minutes. We need more rain.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? WINDOWS ARE ROLLED DOWN by Amos Lee
When I'm doing the Agent Reads The Slush Pile workshop, the toughest moment is when the volunteer reads an entry that is completely sound. In the reading, there is no problem that I can point to and say, "here, this is the issue" or "this is not working." On a mechanical level, there is nothing wrong with the opening pages.
The form is acceptable, the grammar is fine, the writing is solid. I can even identify that the writer understands the tenets of craft. By all the "rules" of writing and publishing, I should be glowing about this entry.
But something is missing.
And I have no other word for the "what" that is missing except to say the work is lacking narrative "spark."
In other words, the writing is missing a distinctive voice.
And when that happens, what can you say during the workshop? That I don't love it? Well, that's not accurate either because when something is missing "spark" it's probably not just a Kristin subjective thing. Listeners sense it too. I can tell by watching the workshop audience. When something lacks spark, it loses people's attention. They start to shift in their seats or stretch or focus on something else. It's not just me that notices the absence.
On the other hand, when a work has that elusive spark, I know it, because the workshop audience becomes completely still and enrapt in the reading. Their attention is glued to the reader so as not to miss the next sentence. It's a palpable change in the atmosphere of the room.
Sadly I can't give an example because none of my authors have this problem. I'd have to grab something from the slush pile and I certainly couldn't post it here without permission.
And speaking of getting read, it all begins with the perfect pitch paragraph in your query letter. Pub Rants University is hosting Goodbye Slush Pile: How To Write The Perfect Query Letter Pitch Paragraph for your Novel tomorrow night, Thursday, June 28 from 6 to 8 pm Mountain time. Given by yours truly.
I can't tell you the number of emails I've received over the years from participants who have attended, revamped their query pitches, and then landed an agent and went on to sell. Dozens and dozens. In fact, one person even came up to me during the Litfest closing party the week before last to thank me.
You won't want to miss it!
STATUS: Come on rain! Don't just be cloudy and not give it up. Pour gosh darn it!
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? PUMP IT UP by Elvis Costello
I'm getting ready for tonight's workshop so I'm reviewing all the tag lines submitted by the workshop attendees. I asked all participants to submit one sentence as a baseline. So we can do a before and after during the workshop--which is often fun to see.
In other words, I don't expect everyone to have nailed that tag line. It's often hard to nail your plot catalyst in one sentence--especially if you've never really done it before. Hence the workshop.
But in reading them in prep, I can give my blog readers a bit of insight into what I think these attendees are struggling with. In the workshop, I'm going to clearly explain how to nail a plot catalyst tag line and then how to build your query pitch around that--using three different approaches.
Problem 1: The writer is trying to summarize the novel in the tag line.
Wrong use for it. You just want to nail your plot catalyst. But great, we'll talk about it tonight.
Problem 2: The writer is relying on reader's previous knowledge of a story or fairytale.
Not a bad starting point but it's not going to be quite enough to carry the cornerstone of your pitch. Will work on that tonight.
Problem 3: The writer highlights two necessary elements of the story but alas, in the tag line, they don't have a relation or a cause and effect so mentioning both doesn't quite make sense.
In other words, one doesn't necessitate the other. I'll just need to point that out and I think this writer will get it.
And there's still time to sign up if you want to join us! Just click here. I'll be getting the tag lines soon for any day registers. However, we are going to close the class in an hour or two so if you want to join in, don't delay.
I'm off this coming weekend to The Writer's Plot Writing Conference at Furman University in Greenville, SC. I am looking forward to seeing good writing friends again, and to meeting for the first time some talented people in the field of children's literature. Folks like: Writing buddies - Samantha Bell, Pam Zollman, Jean Hall Harold Underdown Edie Melson Vonda Skelton Pat Thompson AlanDisplay Comments Add a Comment
STATUS: Have to leave a tad early today. My plan is to read a good portion of a client manuscript this evening.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LAID by James
At conferences, the biggest complaint I hear from aspiring writers is this: there is never any feedback given when an agent or an editor sends a rejection letter.
Or, if there is a response, it tends to be generic--something along the lines of "I just didn't fall in love with the story."
Writers don't have a good sense of what is really causing an agent to stop reading.
Well, this webinar is designed to answer that question. It's a no holds barred (and a tough workshop so be warned) but if you want an honest, straightforward, and helpful response as to why your sample pages might be getting rejected, then this is it.
This is a "fly on the wall" glimpse of an agent reading her slush pile.
I read the first opening 2-pages submitted by the participants of the workshop. If I would have stopped reading, I stop and clearly say why. In general, we tackle about 20 entries selected at random.
The I crush the writer's fragile ego under my critique hammer… Just kidding. This is not American Idol style.
I don't pull the punch but I do try and be sensitive and helpful. This webinar is not about denigrating the writer but it's also not for the faint of heart.
If you think you are ready, then you might want to consider it. Register here. And I'll see you tomorrow.
I had a great time at the GCU Summer Writing Workshop last weekend. Good food, delightful company. Along with fellow presenters, Toni De Palma and Teresa Link, I got to mingle with our hosts, Connie and Jessica, and a diverse, interesting group of attendees (including my friend, Walt Giersbach, who brought a delegation from the Manchester Writer’s Circle). The setting deserves a mention too. Strolling through the picturesque grounds of the Georgian Court University, I felt like we were on the set of Downton Abbey.
If you’re thinking the ‘Girly screams’ referred to in the title of this post came from the audience at the conclusion of my poetry reading on Saturday night, I’m afraid I must disappoint you. The high-pitched squealing took place much earlier that day, at around four in the a.m. They came from the shower rooms in the GCU’s Maria Residence Hall.
Having woken up far too early, I decided to drive off campus to the nearest 24hr McDonalds, where I could enjoy a cup of coffee while working on my current WiP, Abraham Lincoln Stole My Homework. Being the considerate fellow I am, I stepped into the shower before turning it on, closing the curtain behind me so as to keep the sound of running water to the minimum.
At my house, you get a good half-second between the turning on of the shower and the initial spray, which leaves plenty of time to retreat to the far corner while the water heats up to the required level. The GCU shower cubicles are pretty small, but I felt sure I could still squeeze myself into a safe corner in time.
You can imagine my surprise when, the instant I turned the dial, a jet of freezing cold water practically flattened me against the back wall. I defy anyone to suffer this kind of surprise without a murmur.
Aside from getting sand-blasted with frigid water at the crack of dawn, the day went well. A few people who registered didn’t actually turn up, which is a shame, because I know of at least two writers who tried to book a place on my Saturday workshops, but were turned away due to lack of space. I can’t speak for the folks on the other side of the table, but for my part, I think the sessions went well.
After dinner on the Saturday evening, I gave a shortened version of my ‘Mistakes Writers Make’ talk. I ended with the poem I referred to above. If this shocks you, I quite understand. I was surprised too. I haven’t written a poem since leaving school in the 1970s, and even those don’t really count, seeing as how they usually began with, ‘There was a young man from…’ or something similar. Still, I’m a big believer in forcing yourself to step out of your comfort zone, and the idea of writing my first poem in nearly forty years and reading it aloud to a group of fellow writers certainly qualified.
On the Sunday morning, I hosted a critique session, during which I shared my ‘Critiquee’s Charter’, which one of the attendees, MaryBeth Mulhall, kindly blogged about yesterday.
All in all, I think the weekend went very well. At the close, the hard-working folks at GCU asked if I’d like to come
I’m excited to be doing two workshops this fall and presenting one of my novels, a first for me.
October 6-7 Write on the Sound
This will be the fourth workshop I’ve presented at “WOTS,” as it’s often called. Located in Edmonds, Washington, a beachfront town on Puget Sound, it’s a fun and enlightening conference.
The conference hosts a maximum of 250 attendees. With presenters and participants from the Northwest, far flung states, and abroad, their Saturday and Sunday workshops offer over thirty sessions on craft, marketing, and specialty writing topics. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, YA, social networking and creativity are only some of the choices. A couple of years ago I had over 100 in my Killer First Page workshop at WOTS.
But this year I’ll be teaching my How to Craft Killer Description and Dialogue workshop. It’s a fun one, with writing exercises and discussion. Registration is now open, and there’s a downloadable brochure.
October 11-14 Wordstock
Wordstock is an annual festival of books, writers, and storytelling in Portland, Oregon. To date it has hosted over 1,000 writers who have read and performed for nearly 80,000 people at past festivals. Wordstock features seven author stages; a book fair with over 125 exhibitors; a special children’s activity area and children’s literature stage; a series of workshops for emerging writers; over a week’s worth of special events hosted by our partner organizations throughout the region, including a special broadcast of Live Wire!, the popular public radio variety show that features writers from the festival; and more. Although it only began in 2005, Wordstock is already the largest celebration of literature and literacy in the Pacific Northwest, and is one of the largest festivals of its kind in the nation.
This is my first time at Wordstock and my first time presenting one of my novels as well as being lucky enough to do a workshop. I’ve been invited to talk about The Vampire Kitty-cat Chronicles. There will be readings (I’m paired with another author in my session) and a book-signing. I’m super excited about this.
And I’ll be giving my How to Create a Killer First Page workshop. This workshop has been a great success at 5 different conferences. It doesn’t look like they’re ready for registration yet, but here’s their website.
It would be great to see you if you attend one of these events, so be sure to say hi.
For what it’s worth,
RayAdd a Comment
This Saturday I had the pleasure of doing my Killer Description and Dialogue workshop with the Write on the River group in Wenatchee, Washington--a lovely town on the east slope of the Cascades.
The writers there range from beginning to published pros, and they were sharp and talented folks. It was a real pleasure to work with them. I urge writers in eastern Washington to get in touch.
They also put on a writers conference in mid-May. By all reports, it's a good one. I'll be applying to do my Killer First Page workshop there next year--wish me luck.
Wordstock in Portland Oct 13 & 14
I'll be presenting my novel, The Vampire Kitty-cat Chronicles, at Wordstock on Saturday, October 13, 2012 4:00pm - 5:00pm @ Work for Art Stage (OCC, Room D-134). Normally two writers share an hour, but for some reason I have the whole hour. It's going to be very interesting to me to find out what I'm going to do for an hour--unfortunately, my tap-dancing lessons are very deep in the remote past. If you're there, please come by to say hi.
And I'm doing my Killer First Page workshop Saturday, 12:00pm - 1:15pm @ Minuteman Press Team Writer's Workshop Stage A (OCC, Room D-139)
I'm also on a panel of blogging authors, Sunday, October 14, 2012 1:00pm - 2:00pm @ Work for Art Stage (OCC, Room D-134).
I'll be busy, but there's nothing more fun than talking about writing and helping others along the learning curve.
Now you see why I call this blog "Flogging the Quill."
For what it's worth,
RayAdd a Comment
I promised a little run down on my recent visit to Highlight's Foundation in Boyd's Mill, PA. It puts the TREAT in RETREAT. Here's one reason ...
A couple of weeks back my writing buddy, Carol Baldwin, and I headed south to Greenville, SC, for a one day writers' workshop "Show, Don't Tell," sponsored by the Greenville Emyrs Foundation. Author Hester Bass led us through techniques used by actors to create their characters - techniques that are equally useful to writers. It was great fun and we both gained some insight into improvingDisplay Comments Add a Comment
I just returned from doing my Crafting Killer Description and Dialogue workshop at Write on the Sound to a sold-out class of 75 (though I think there were actually about 85 there), and I had a great time.
The conference is very well done (they've been at it for, I think, 28 years). It's small and intimate, and the presenters tend to be excellent. One big benefit for me is being about to attend other workshops while I'm there. In particular, I enjoyed workshops by Steve White, an author who talked about suspense, Jessica Morrell, author and developmental editor (like me), who talked about creating conflict, and Ron Gompertz, an author and Indie publisher who gave an info-packed presentation on navigating Amazon to maximize your sales and exposure.
Mostly it was a treat to spend two days talking (and listening) about writing in a lovely location on the Puget Sound. Lucky me.
Next week: Wordstock in Portland, OR.
RayAdd a Comment
When I got into my pirate gear on Wednesday morning, my first pre-World Book Day stop was Newbottle and Charlton Primary School in Oxfordshire. Louise told me that it was the first time they'd ever had an author visit the school. I felt honoured to be the first, and the schoolchildren were wonderfully enthusiastic.
Here's the pirate they led me in drawing, Cap'n Ugly Hardrock Davios (or 'Dav' for short).
Here's their head, fellow North American Diannah Dean, introducing me. The kids did a great job of saying ARRR! like a pirate.
I read You Can't Scare a Princess! to the school, then talked them through a little slideshow about how I made the book, starting with the piece of paper with the story text on it. Here I am, showing them how I designed the character of Captain Waffle.
Then I led Years 5-6 in a comics workshop. First we designed some pirate characters, then we had a Comics Jam session. Here are some of the pirates, starting with Captain Bendy Bum:
And here are a few of the Comics Jams! Some of them are surreal, to say the least.
I finished with a book signing, and it was lovely getting to meet some of the kids there.
Louise took me off to Culworth Primary School, and on the road, we stopped off at a churchyard to look at this intriguing old tomb stone of a former African servant who had died at the age of 16:
I took a few snapshots of some snowdrops growing outside the school, next to the old grounds of Culworth Castle.
Louise took a photo of me taking a photo of the snowdrops...
Here are Reception and Year 1. We're talking about digging long, winding pirate tunnels.
They helped me draw this pirate, Captain Pants:<